Infrared camera monitors and thermal imaging helmets currently used by firefighters can see through thick smoke but require lenses that can be blinded by intense fire. Pietro Ferraro and colleagues from the National Institute of Optics in Italy have built an infrared laser holography system to solve that problem.
The beam reflects off any objects, including people. The data is then decoded to create a 3D model of everything in the area. "Perhaps most importantly, we demonstrated for the first time that a holographic recording of a live person can be achieved even while the body is moving," Ferraro said.
The team plans to make a device that houses both the laser and the holographic camera, allowing the system to be fixed as a single unit inside buildings.
In this video from New Scientist, you can see how an infrared camera fails to capture a person blocked by flames because it relies on a lens to produce an image. The holographic view, shown on the right, reproduces the obscured action by shining infrared laser light at it.